With its unapologetic language and use of cleavage, Shadayim is a dramedy that centers on a family during the Jewish mourning period of Shiva.
The eldest, Michele, is on edge after being thrust into the role of matriarch upon her mother’s passing and having to deal with her sister’s online shenanigans. Her sister, Zoe, is not afraid to flaunt her sexuality and copes with death in her own way. Their strongly devout cousin, Sarah, and Sarah’s religiously rebellious sister, Leah, stay with Michele and Zoe as they mourn the loss of their mother to breast cancer.
Though the bundling of nerves seemed to push the dialog from Michele (Carolyn Ducker) and Zoe (Erica Bamberski) at such a pace that the jokes barely had a chance to register in the beginning, things do even out enough to give a very sincere heart-to-heart conversation between the two mourning sisters. Ms. Ducker was able to make that moment feel so personal that I almost felt rude listening in on something so intimate. At times it’s even surprising to believe this is Ms. Bamberski’s first stage performance. Cami Riviezzo (Sarah) was especially enjoyable. Believable in her role, she was able to express the emotions required for such a complex character. There was a bit of a love/hate relationship with Julie Gottfried’s (Leah) performance. Her actions came off more vindictive and spiteful than as a snotty teenager, hurt that her family couldn’t confide in them. Part of viewing her as a cruel person is even validated by the little backstory the viewer is given, but the performance also felt a bit forced, almost to the point of becoming a caricature. Although, part of that could be explained by the fact that the actress, herself, is a very sweet person and might have found it challenging to bring out the rotten side of her.
There is some ironing out that needs to be done on the technical side of things. The transitions between scenes were rather clunky, the audio was rather blaring (the phone left my ears ringing, literally), and the lighting also had some serious timing issues. Besides the volume of the audio, I was confused as to why they used door recordings at the beginning of the play, but then stopped. If this is meant to signify to the audience that this is the sole entrance and exit of the room, then why have the character Sarah climb off stage and walk to the back of the room to answer the door at the end of the play? I find this decision questionable and could have done without the door sounds altogether. The show, itself also ended so abruptly, those who were there were rather dumbfounded. It became a scene from one of those awkward teen movies when the audience isn’t sure if they should clap yet or not.
Despite all this, I enjoyed it most for its message. Well, at least one of its messages. Though it was written to be a comedy about breasts, unknowingly Stephanie Bramson has created a play that opens up a dialogue that will remain relevant for years to come: Modesty vs. Promiscuity. New age vs. Tradition. Religion vs Sexuality. And can one really be respectful of their religion whilst being true to themselves? All of these are discussed within Shadayim’s realm.
Written by Stephanie Bramson and Directed by James Dryden, Shadayim is definitely one to see, especially if you need to open up to your family about the most uncomfortable of topics.
“What does Shadayim mean?” you might ask. Well, I’ll leave that up to the ladies to show you.
Shadayim will be performed at Sleuth’s Mystery Dinner Theatre (8267 International Drive, Orlando – next to the Orlando Eye) this weekend, February 26 through 28, with performances at 8:30pm nightly.
Tickets are $15 for adults, and $10 for seniors, students, and theme park employees with I.D. Under 16 must be accompanied by an adult. Call 407-363-1985 to reserve or more information. You can also visit the Shadayim Facebook page.
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